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I just uninstalled Virtual Families.

It was partially because I tend to forget to play it (and the real time engine causes it to keep going even when I'm not playing, which causes lots of unfixable in-game issues, like character depression)... but it was mostly due to the rampant homophobia and gender stereotyping the game flaunted.

Be warned, there will be a lot of comparison to The Sims (mostly 2 and 3, but some 1 as well), and that's not just a bias on my part. This is basically a "Virtual Families vs. The Sims: The Diversity Battle"

And I probably should have done this a couple days ago when I most angry about it, but oh well.

Love And Marriage
In The Sims, every Sim is born bisexual. (Okay, okay... in actuality, every Sim is born asexual since they aren't attracted to either sex at first). It is the player's choice which orientation their Sims are, so if one player wants to make their game a heteronormative society where only men marry women and have 2.5 kids and live in houses with white picket fences, they can. However, another player can go ahead and make every single one of their Sims gay and have them sleep around and be, for lack of a better term, sluts.. they can as well! (And then there's people like me, who want to make some of their Sims straight and others gay... and they all live in houses with white picket fences because gay couples deserve their 2.5 kids and white picket fences too, damn it!). And in The Sims, there is marriage equality! The game only checks relationship scores when one Sim proposes to another, so gay couples can get married if the player so desires (though it was called a "joined union" in TS2. TS3 calls it marriage straight out).

However, in Virtual Families, every character is straight. With no way to change it. It only sends marriage proposals from characters the gender opposite the one you're playing. One could say "well duh, the point of the game is to have kids and keep the lineage going! Gay couples can't do that!" But! But! The game has adoption coded into the engine! And the FAQs/rules state a couple "either has to have or adopt a kid for it not to end" so adopted children count as far as lineage goes. If couples can adopt, why not code it where they can be gay? It can be precoded when you adopt the character for all I care. Then, the random event for adopting a child can occur more frequently than it does for straight couples (to counter the fact the straight couples can have their own children).

Gender Stereotyping
This part of the rant refers specifically to the children in the game.

In The Sims, the only check done if a character wants to play with a certain toy is an age check (can a Sim in this age group use this item?). Therefore, both boys and girls are allowed to play with the dollhouse (and though this is a technical thing, it needs to be said: the animation sequence is exactly the same for either gender). Both boys and girls are allowed to play with the Easy Bake Oven. If there were a toy tool bench (did Free Time add one of those?), both boys and girls would be allowed to play with it too! Sure, sure... I know these are all technical things to make the game easier to code, but it does send a message to any kids playing (with parental supervision, of course).

And now... the part of this rant that actually sparked the rant in the first place: In Virtual Families, little girls have the option to "play Mommy" and little boys have the option to "play Daddy." Little girls head over to Mommy's closet (assumingly to play dress up), and little boys run into the workshop (to play with daddy's tools). And it just me go, "*sputter* Aglrhbgrhhbj! Are you serious?" And then I raged and ranted and here we are.

And one can say it's the first attempt. Virtual Families 2 could have all that. But to that I counter protest two things: 1) Even The Sims 1 had all this, and 2) the company that makes Virtual Families also makes the Virtual Villagers games. There's 3 of those. None of this yet in those games either.

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Erika

January 2014

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